Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Wandering Writer

Once again I come to tell a bit about my travel experiences and the inspirations to them connected. Previously I told about my first travelling experience, in Kenya and Tanzania. When I returned home, I couldnt stop thinking about those places as they were so far from my everyday experience and from what I saw on the TV.
The feelings of homesickness felt so unbearable, that we needed to have another holiday there, exploring more of that fantastic continent. However, being always interested in the political aspect, we decided to explore more sensitive countries, for this reason, we decided to visit Sierra Leone.
It was in 2008 when we decided to go, the civil war ended already, but the UN mission was still operational, mostly for the reconstruction of their democracy. There werent any flights from Finland to Freetown, but we decided to fly to Banjul (Gambia) so to have also the chance to visit that country.
Unfortunately, we didnt have any chance to visit Gambia, as we could not either leave the hotels premises. The only time we tried to reach the beach, we were literally surrounded by local merchants wanting to sell us something, visit their shop or visit their restaurant. Therefore already from the third day, we arranged our move to Freetown.

It was quite exciting to arrive in Sierra Leone; and we were eager to discover the history, the places and particularly the people. Reaching the hotel was not the easiest of the tasks because the airport is situated on the northern coast of the estuary, and to reach the city we had to take the boat. Of course, the waiting time was longer than you could expect in any western countries, but one has to recall that each country has its own way to work. It took several hours, but finally, we made it and even if tired, we felt satisfied.
The morning after started with a round of the surroundings by foot, and we felt extremely pleased to be able to walk around being greeted by the locals without any harassment from merchants.

We walked

And walked


And made more walk; something I could never get enough is the red, rich colour of the soil in Africa. We loved to walk around and have small chats with local people; particularly those at the small shops along the road.

We had long chats about everything, but particularly about what they could share of the period of the civil war. It was so close, yet people were determined to find a new normality in peace and leave at their shoulders a very painful and frightening past. They willingly told us about their experiences and finally I realised that the reality told by the media was just a minimal part of the reality, and generally, is flawed with personal opinions. Another sad reality was that outside Africa, nobody cares about what happen there, and that was what saddened me the most. Such a great country so much ignored taken aside the documentaries about wildlife.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share their natural environment, which is something that enchanted and amused me since the beginning:      

Last but not least, the symbol of Sierra Leone, a real landmark: the cotton tree.

This giant and old tree, which is about 500 years old is very important to the population, and on its surroundings, it was built the heart of Freetown; the Supreme Court, the National Museum and the music club building.

And besides being very dear to the population, it hosts a large group of fruit bats. As for me, I am used to seeing bats, flying at night, but I have never seen that big amount in the same place.
Once again leaving Africa was difficult, and  as the plane left the ground, I started to think about the next time I would have visited Africa again, thinking about the next country to be discovered.

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